Career Exploration Takes K Students to Windy City

11 K to the Windy City participants at the el train
A K to the Windy City trip drew rave reviews from students who got to participate in panels, site visits, tours and conversations with alumni offering insight into their working environments and careers. Photo credit: Madi Triplett ’19

Five Kalamazoo College juniors and eight sophomores are back from Chicago after a three-day trip to learn firsthand from alumni about their careers. Known as K to the Windy City, the exploratory career trek, or K-Trek, focused on careers in law, sustainability and nonprofit administration.

Coordinated by the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD), K-Treks are multi-day immersive discussions with leaders in various industries. They’re also just one example of the experiential education opportunities available within the K-Plan, Kalamazoo College’s distinctive approach to the liberal arts and sciences.

Other K-Treks, inspired by tech entrepreneur and alumnus Brad O’Neill ’93, visit cities such as San Francisco, where the focus is on entrepreneurship; and New York City, where students explore finance- and business-related careers.

Through K-Treks, students “are able to network and obtain an inside perspective about industries,” said Keri L. Bol, who works in operations support with CCPD. “It also gives students the ability to travel outside of Kalamazoo to explore different cities and see how professionals may function in that city. Our hope is that they come back from a K-Trek with a better understanding of their field of interest and how to embark on their intended career path after they graduate.”

Four alumni with a scenic view of downtown Chicago during K to the Windy City
Avery Allman ’16, Will Sheehan ’17, Nora Stagner ’17 and Anja Xheka ’17 were among the alumni who welcomed Kalamazoo College students to Chicago through an alumni networking reception for K to the Windy City. Photo credit: Madi Triplett ’19

K to the Windy City participants researched in advance the alumni they would meet and the organizations they worked for and prepared a list of questions for the interaction.

CCPD staff used student cover letters and résumés to customize the students’ individual itineraries, providing the most educational impact. More than 30 alumni served on panels or met with students to share advice. Nearly 30 other alumni from other industries attended a networking reception to provide further advice.

The trip drew rave reviews from students who got to participate in panels, site visits, tours and conversations with alumni offering insight into their working environments and careers. It also helped students—who represented 13 majors such as anthropology/sociology, psychology, biology and chemistry—develop skills in self-presentation and business etiquette, and cultivate professional relationships in Chicago.

“My experience on the trek was one that will stick with me for the rest of my life because of how informative and useful it was to the shaping of my post-grad career,” said Emma Eisenbeis ’19, a German and political science double major, after participating in the law track. “I cannot stress enough how helpful it is to speak with people in your desired career before making any large, life-changing decisions.”

Amelia Davis ’20, a biology and chemistry major participating in the sustainability track, offered a similar review.

“It was fascinating to hear about the different paths that alumni took to get to where they are and it is inspiring to think about the opportunities available to me after I graduate from K,” Davis said.

Other participants included Isabella Haney ’19, Neelam Lal ’20, Rosella LoChirco ’20, Sarah Gerendasy ’20 and Erin Smith ’19 in the law track; Mara Hazen ’19, Sage Benner ’20 and Yansong Pan ’20 in the nonprofit administration track; and Maya Gurfinkel ’20, Rose Maylen ’19 and Yasamin Shaker ’20 in the sustainability track.

Learn more at our website about how offerings such as K-Treks through the CCPD can benefit students’ employment outcomes.